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Woman converts milk float into zero waste shop

Words by Smiley Team

When sustainable food specialist Ella Shone went on furlough in the first UK lockdown, an exciting idea came into her head. She had always wanted to start her own business and with newfound spare time on her hands, she finally had the chance to make her dream a reality.

Buying an old electric milk float, she initially worked with Re:Store, a zero-waste shop in north London, to distribute their planet-friendly produce to local communities. 

She kicked off her business with a trial period, selling refills from boxes, containers and jerry cans out of the side of the original float. The TOPUP TRUCK, quickly proved popular with locals, provoking smiles and nostalgia from those that encountered it.

“Satisfying is a word that we hear a lot,” Ella tells Smiley News. “Everyone remarks on the satisfaction they get from collecting their weekly shop but not incurring any packaging waste, reusing everything and knowing they’re just doing their bit.”

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It’s not only customers who appreciate the topup truck. Ella adds: “Just seeing the float, people get a sense of curiosity, nostalgia and joy. Whether it's people shopping with us or people who chat to us on the street, they always have a really joyful, positive reaction.”

Off the back of this success, she crowdfunded to pay for its conversion. A local eco-friendly tradesperson used sustainably-sourced materials to transform the vehicle into a fully functioning shop-on-wheels complete with lockable sides, shelving and storage.

Having gone independent, she sells a whole range of zero or low waste products. For Ella, it’s a project that’s been long in the making, with her penchant for sustainability being deep-rooted in her past. 

“I've been a vegetarian since I was small and I've always been pretty eco-minded, but increasingly so over the last few years,” she says.

Through strengthening this mindset, she has gained a dedication to sustainable business and zero-waste approaches. 

“I think sustainability is just the only way we can move forward,” she explains. “It's just an absolute necessity for businesses to play a part in how we change the way we use the Earth's natural resources and reimagine supply chains and manufacturing processes.”

She embeds sustainability in every aspect of running her topup truck, selling products that range from plastic-free household essentials and loose food to zero-waste sanitary products. Customers can either request for the float to visit their local area or order products for bicycle delivery to their doorstep.

Inspired to act?

BOOK: Check the catchment area in northeast London for Ella’s topup truck and book the float for your neighbourhood.

ACT NOW: To help tackle plastic packaging in the UK, join Greenpeace’s Big Plastic Count.


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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